For those of you who have been following the Instagram for a little while, you might remember the Chateau Sale. One of the most fabulous sales I've ever witnessed was the auction and professionals-only sale from the attic of the ancient Renaissance castle of Mouchy-le-Châtel.
One of the things that struck me about this sale, is not only the magnitude of beauty in the objects being sold, but the history. Photos from the chateau's glory days were made available. Seeing the objects as they once were was very moving and inspiring, and of course piqued all my curiosity.
So, I searched. The story of Mouchy's Chateau: It was built in the 16th century by the de Maricourt family before being passed to the first Duke of Noailles during the second half of the 17th century. It was eventually restored and considerably enlarged by the Duke of Mouchy, who was a relative of the Duke of Noailles.
The great family were collectors of art from France, Italy, Eastern Europe and Asia. They commissioned works, as well as purchasing fine pieces from abroad. They were entertainers, and apparently held fabulous parties, to which dukes and duchesses traveled from all over France. If only we could time travel just once.
Most of the collecting happened during the 1860s, when furniture and art objects were sourced via the flourishing Parisian art trade. Mouchy apparently had particular soft spot for the ornate.
Large cast iron fire back, Regency period
Garden vases in white marble, with carved reliefs, XIXeme century
Duchess Brisee in grey lacquered wood moulded and carved with a ribbon frieze, trimmed with floral motif fabric. Louis XVI era, stamped C CHEVIGNY.
Cleopatra in marble, from the Neoclassical period.
Tragically, during the German occupation of the Second World War, the spectacular chateau suffered a great deal and many of the objects and art were put into storage in the granaries. The castle no longer stands, but luckily someone had foresight to hide and preserve many of the treasures.
Three paintings, portraits of Rembrandt, Rubens and Raphael, from the XIXeme century.
Three portraits of clergymen, from the beginning of the XIXeme century.
19th century portraits of popes.
The Chateau as it was, date unknown.
This sale really brought home something I have sensed, but not fully realized. The fascination with objects from another time, for me at least, is really a fascination with people from history. Even if we don't know the full story of the Duke (or his wife who clearly had some fabulous influence), or the art dealer Benoit, we learn something of them by what they collected. Even when art or antiques come completely anonymously... we know they've been created, sought, touched, loved, illuminated, and somehow "kept" through wars, travels, destructions, going out of fashion and a myriad of other chances to just disappear.
Art and antiques are about life.